CINCINNATI — An exciting challenge awaits for the No. 7/8 University of Cincinnati football team Saturday when it heads to South Bend to battle the No. 9/7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 2:30 p.m. ET. The matchup will air on NBC as well as 102.7 WEBN-FM and 700 WLW AM.
7/8 CINCINNATI BEARCATS
Head Coach Luke Fickell
Record at Cincinnati 38-14 (Fifth Year)
Overall Record 44-21 (Sixth Year)
9/7 NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
Head Coach Brian Kelly
Record at School 106-39 (12th Year)
Overall Record 277-96-2 (31st Year)
Facility Notre Dame Stadium
Radio 700 WLW AM / Sirius 211 / XM 202 / Internet 970
Online SiriusXM Internet Channel 970
Series Record Notre Dame leads 1-0
Neutral Site 0-0
Last Meeting Oct. 20, 1900 (Notre Dame won 58-0)
• Play-by-Play Mike Tirico
• Analyst Drew Brees
• Sideline Kathryn Tappen
• Online: NBC.com Mobile App: NBC
RADIO:BEARCATS SPORTS NETWORK
• Play-by-Play Dan Hoard
• Analyst Jim Kelly Jr.
• Host/Engineer Mo Egger
• Local: 700 WLW AM
• Satellite: Sirius 211 / XM 202 / Internet 970
• App: The Varsity Network: “Search Cincinnati”
NOW IT’S TIME FOR THE BREAKDOWN
The Bearcats overcame a 14-0 deficit and turned it to a 38-24 win over Indiana. It was IU’s largest home crowd for a non-conference game since 1987 and UC’s largest comeback win since Sept. 22, 2018, a 21-0 deficit to Ohio, which was Desmond Ridder’s third-career start. Deshawn Pace, who had 10 tackles as a freshman in 2020, maintained his team-lead with a game-high 10 stops (nine solo) and a 39-yard interception return to set up the game-icing touchdown, earning AAC Defensive POTW honors as well. Jerome Ford increased his carries for the third-straight game, finishing with 20 for 66 yards and two scores. UC also held the Hoosiers to 7-of-22 passing in the second half while finishing the game on a 38-10 run.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Cincinnati is on the road for the second-straight game after playing only two in 2020. The Bearcats are No. 2 nationally in red-zone defense and third in defensive pass efficiency. Desmond Ridder has completed touchdown passes to six different receivers and rushed for two more amidst his record-books ascent. The Bearcats have forced eight turnovers (6 INT, 2 FR) the last two games after its nation-best 20-game streak was snapped in the opener.
Luke Fickell, a two-time AAC Coach of the Year, is in his fifth season at UC. He has led the Bearcats to back-to-back 11-win seasons, the 2019 AAC East Division title and consecutive bowl wins in the 2018 Military Bowl and 2019 TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl. A veteran of 20 years in the FBS ranks, Fickell has been a part of two national championship squads, nine conference title-winning teams (seven as a coach, two as a player at Ohio State) with 16 postseason games and 13 NFL Draft selections.
Brian Kelly surpassed the legendary Knute Rockne for Notre Dame wins with 106 after Saturday’s 41-13 rout of No. 15 Wisconsin. He was 34-6 as Cincinnati’s head coach from 2007-09, guiding the team to Orange and Sugar Bowl appearances the latter two years. He hired former Bearcats DC Marcus Freeman (2017-20) this offseason.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
- Cincinnati is seeking its third 4-0 start in Fickell’s five years at the helm.
- In addition to its perfect 2020 regular season, it also started 6-0 in 2018 and reeled off nine wins in a row after a Week 2 loss in 2019.
- Not only that, UC’s 20-3 record (.870) win percentage in league play over the past three years is the highest mark in the AAC.
INSIDE THE RANKINGS
- The Bearcats’ highest-ranked win to date was over No. 7 Rutgers (30-11) in 2006, with its highest on the road coming in 2009 at No. 14 Pitt. The squad’s other top-10 win came in 1999 against No. 9 and eventual Rose Bowl champion Wisconsin, with its last non-conference ranked win over No. 25 Oregon State in 2009.
- Fickell is 4-8 against ranked foes at UC, including a 3-1 mark in 2020 (Army, SMU and Tulsa), while also defeating UCF in 2019.
- Brian Kelly produced a 34-6 record (.850) from 2007-09 at Cincinnati, which led to Orange and Sugar Bowls those last two years. It is the second-highest win percentage in school history.
- Notre Dame DC Marcus Freeman served in the same post at UC from 2017-20.
- Cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens played at UC under Kelly while assistants Mike Elston and Jeff Quinn were also on those staffs.
- UC offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock served two stints at Notre Dame (2002-04, 2010-16), including as associate head coach his final two years under Kelly.
- UC wide receiver Michael Young Jr. is a second-year, graduate transfer from Notre Dame. He played in 29 games, recording 17 catches for 177 yards and two TDs, while also returning 12 kickoffs.
COURTESY UC ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS